How to Cook With Shallots

Now what? Photo: Poh Kim Yeoh/EyeEm/Getty Images

If you are on the internet, you know that everyone is talking about shallots. This is a big deal for shallots; alliums rarely rise to the level of public discourse. Perhaps you would also like to participate in shallot conversation, but are unsure where to begin?

We understand. Shallots are fraught these days, and it is important to wade into the discussion informed.  To help you navigate this difficult period in vegetal history, Grub Street has put together this pungent FAQ.

Help! What is a “shallot”?
A shallot is basically a little onion, only a bit sweeter and milder. The most dignified members of the allium family — which also includes onions, garlic, and chives — shallots are delicate, but sharp, like a visiting cousin in a 19th-century period drama.

Are shallots new?
No. Shallots used to be classified as a separate species, but then they got recategorized, and now they’re onions, but special onions. Structurally, they’re a little bit different than regular onions — they’re smaller and longer, and when you peel them, they separate into cloves rather than rings — but spiritually, they are onions.

They seem fancy. Do I pronounce it “shall-OTE”?
If you’re in America, you can stick to the very Anglicized “SHALL-it.”

Isn’t there some French play about shallots?
You’re thinking of the Madwoman of Chaillot. Easy mistake. But no. That’s a whimsical satire about corporate greed, and a bulbous shallot is a garden vegetable.

Where can I get a shallot?
Any grocery store will have shallots, and you can probably get them at the farmers market, too. They’ll be with the onions and garlic. You’re probably going to want to buy a few at a time, because they are both delicious and small.

So what can I do with “shallots”?
The better question is: What can’t you do with shallots? Perhaps the most obvious use-case is salad dressings — raw, minced shallots have the kick of an onion, without the aggression of an actual onion — but you can also sauté them, or roast them, or fry them, or caramelize them. Pretty much anything you can do with an onion, you can do with a shallot.

Do you have any good shallot recipes?
These balsamic-roasted shallots would be a lovely place to start. Ina Garten also has a nice spring-vegetable recipe that illustrates shallots’ ability to improve other ingredients. And you can’t talk about shallots without mentioning Julia Child’s classic vinaigrette.

Oooh, what about this recipe? “Caramelized Shallot Pasta.”

What’s wrong? It sounds good. It’s got anchovies for umami!
You know what? You’re right. It’s fine. Go ahead and try it.

People love to see food on Instagram. I might post a photo of this when it’s done!
Wait —

Now I just need a good hashtag. 
Hold on.

It’s simple, and has a rustic charm that still feels elevated! I feel like a latter-day domestic goddess!
Oh, no.

What about something like #NothingFancy?
You know, on second thought, aren’t you sick of pasta? I’m tired of pasta! You might want to just try a different recipe.

Hm. What about these Crispy Shallot Nachos?
Nachos sound promising.

I love nachos!
Who wrote the recipe?

Her name is Chrissy Teigen.

How to Cook With Shallots